Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle has been accused of ordering the arrest of the Director-General of the Governorship Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Iqra Aliyu Bilbis because he is afraid of the opposition party.

Bilbis is a former Minister of State for Information.

SaharaReporters learnt that Bilbis and some members of the party with him were arrested and detained by the police on Tuesday.

A source told SaharaReporters that Bilbis was arrested alongside about nine other PDP members early on Tuesday, alleging that the arrest was on the orders of Matawalle.

“Senator Iqra Aliyu Bilbis has been arrested and detained by the police on the directive of the governor. About 10 of them were arrested and up till now, we don’t know the police station where they were taken to,” a PDP source said.

The source said PDP chieftains in the state were working hard to secure the freedom of the former minister and other arrested members of the party.

SaharaReporters learnt that the arrest of the PDP chieftain and others was in connection to the alleged vandalism of campaign billboards belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress and the visit of the former PDP governorship candidate, Dauda Lawan Dare, to the state.

However, a PDP member in the state told SaharaReporters that the party chieftains were arrested because Governor Matawalle is afraid that he will lose the next election to the opposition party.

“The arrest is also a victory for us; when the incumbent starts arresting members of the opposition party, it shows that they are afraid of. Matawalle knows that he will lose the governorship so he is afraid,” another PDP member said.

In October, the PDP accused the governor of using all state apparatus including the police and Department of State Services to intimidate and suppress dissenting voices in the state.

The state chapter of the PDP petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, over what it described as unlawful harassment of members of opposition parties by security agents on the orders of Governor Matawalle.

In a copy of the petition signed by Bilbis, and obtained by SaharaReporters, the PDP said the safety of its members in the state was at stake, adding that it had credible information that a squad had been activated by the state government to eliminate members of the opposition.

The petition read in part, “Sir, it is with a heart full of trepidation and responsibility that the Zamfara State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) brings to your notice a potentially explosive situation in Zamfara State.

“It is obvious that the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, is all out to crush opposition and dissenting views and anyone that he sees as a threat in the quest for the realisation of his second term ambition. Well-meaning patriots who are non-political actors have neither been spared and are among the most affected victims of Matawalle’s war without reason.

“It was public knowledge that the Zamfara State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) planned to receive hundreds of thousands of decampees from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to our party on Saturday, October 15, 2022. It is also an established fact that the same was communicated to relevant security agencies in Zamfara State for necessary action.

“A day to the event, on Friday 14th October 2022, our governorship candidate in the 2023 election, Dr. Dauda Lawal was attacked on his way to Gusau, by thugs sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the State Governor. We have supporting evidence of the attack, including videos of how our vehicles were smashed and burnt by the miscreants.

“On the day of the event, Saturday 15th October, 2022, we set out to peacefully carry out our programs as stated above, but as people began to gather, the sponsored thugs led by an official of the State Government, Aliyu Alhazai Shinkafi, the former chairman of the Zamfara Anti-thuggery committee and commandant of the Zamfara Road Traffic Agency (ZAROTA) stormed the residence of our governorship candidate which happened to be the venue of our activities and attacked our peaceful procession and subsequently fired live rounds of ammunition thereby causing pandemonium. In the renewed unprovoked attack, our campaign buses were vandalised and looted.”